After the decision of many countries, including France, to suspend their flights with southern Africa, following the discovery of a new form of Covid-19, the Omicron variant, potentially very contagious and with multiple mutations, the Minister of South African Health Joe Phaahla denounced the "unwarranted" measures.
He even mentions "instinctive reactions of panic".
“It's actually a bad approach, it's misguided.
We just have the feeling that some country leaders are finding scapegoats to deal with what is a global problem, ”he regretted.
Travel restrictions that also apply to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and in some cases Malawi.
Read alsoNew Omicron variant: closing borders, is it really effective?
In less than 24 hours, all of southern Africa was thus almost cut off from the rest of the world. Most of the tourists in the country have packed their bags and stormed the airports to leave the country. A hard blow also for many traders living exclusively from tourism. “The cancellation of flights will hit us hard, because there will be no tourism at all. And our business is really based on tourism. I have already fired the two women who worked for me. Now that there is a cancellation of the flights, it means that there will be no more tourists, so we will close, ”worries Eric Uwuso, souvenir seller in Cape Town. Same story a little further, when crossing Baptiste, a young Belgian expatriate. “I am very angry about this. I have a cousin in UK,and if I want to see it, it's not possible, and it's about my family. I need to see my family ”.
On Saturday, the South African government cracked a new statement in which it said it felt "punished" for having detected the new Omicron variant.
“This latest round of travel bans is to punish South Africa for its advanced genomic sequencing and its ability to detect new variants more quickly.
Scientific excellence must be applauded and not punished, ”said the government.